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Co-mingle your recyclables
City officials’ residential recycling program starts in October
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Dunedin residents who sign up for the city’s new recycling program set to start in October are going to receive the standard 65-gallon, wheeled, blue recycling carts.
DUNEDIN – Dunedin residents are going to have a new, easier way to help the environment. Starting on Oct. 1, recycling will be a standard level of service for the city of Dunedin.

Currently, recycling is available on a subscription basis for $2.79 a month, said William Pickram, director of solid waste for the city. The program is about 10 years old, and it is a sorted system, where people who opt in to the service must sort the different types of recyclables into like kinds. Presently, about 2,000 residents use this service.

The new system, however, will be for all residential curbside customers – between 12,000 and 13,000 households – and it is a single-stream program, meaning there is no sorting required.

“Single stream means there isn’t going to be any pre-sorting involved,” Pickram said. “You can co-mingle. Pretty much all containers and fiber, any color glass, newspaper, mixed paper, cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, and plastics 1-7.”

The new program allows for more items that previously could not be recycled through the city, said Valerie Brown, sustainability coordinator for the city. New materials include all colors of glass, cardboard, paper milk and juice cartons, and all types of plastic containers except Styrofoam. The previously allowed materials also will still exist in the new program. Detailed labels will be placed on top of all of the recycling containers, so people can easily see what they can and cannot recycle.

Residents will not be required to participate, but just like every qualified home that is issued their green trash can, all of these homes also will receive the standard 65-gallon, wheeled, blue recycling carts, he said.

Brown said the carts are large enough to accommodate all the additional recyclable materials, making it convenient so even a cardboard box could fit without breaking it down.

“With increases in online shopping, residents are now able to easily recycle all those boxes,” Brown said. “I am also envisioning a holiday season where rather than putting additional garbage trucks on the road and sending so much waste to the landfill, we will instead see huge increases in our recycling tonnage – cardboard, wrapping paper, tissue paper, shirt boxes, etc. – thus turning all this waste into a positive for our environment and budget.”

The city’s commercial and multi-family customers will have the opportunity to join the new recycling program through the contractor, Republic Services, but for a fee, Pickram said.

“In our solid waste industry, we pick up the barrels with that automated side-arm parallel,” Pickram said. “As opposed to if you live in a condominium, your trash can go in a trash dumpster. If you’re in a commercial setting or a multi-family setting, you have the option to be able to go to a smaller-sized container for a lesser fee or less pickups.”

The blue recycling containers – that come with lids – will all be delivered to residential customers in the two weeks leading up to Monday, Oct. 1, which is the first day of service. Customers’ recycling day will be the same day as their residential bulk trash pickup day. If people are unsure of which day this is, they may visit the website at www.d­unedi­ngov.­com or call the solid waste office at 298-3215 and ask for Pickram or Valerie Brown.

With education and outreach, Pickram said the city hopes for a good initial participation rate and for that number to only rise after that.

“We’re hoping for the range of 60 to 70 percent participation rate initially

and the projection of 14 to 26 pounds per household per week – which is industry standard.”

Pickram said that the service is not “free” because there is a cost to operate the program, but the city hopes that ultimately it will nearly pay for itself.

“We’re hoping that with this type of program, the amount of waste diversion that comes out of the convenience of the 65-gallon cart, that we’ll get enough savings out of it to at least fund most of it,” Pickram said. “With other efficiencies that come down the road, we hope that if we can get enough (recyclable) waste out of the green barrel, we can go to possibly one time a week with trash pickup. Of course there will be plenty of data collection, analysis and discussion – public discussion – before we do that.”

The goal is that residents will just get into the habit of recycling because it is such an easy and convenient system.

“We’re trying to get it from the kitchen to the container,” Pickram said. “When you take out your trash, hopefully you’ll be taking out your recyclables, so the recycling container is just next to the trash. So it’s making it convenient, making it easy to use and no sorting.”

Pickram said the program is fitting and appropriate for the city, especially considering its recent accomplishment of earning a Gold City Certification through the Florida Green Building Coalition. Dunedin takes the environment seriously, and recycling is one important component of that.

“It conserves landfill space,” Pickram said. “And it closes the loop with recycling efforts. It also allows us to help the county receive the 75 percent recycling goal that the state puts on the counties. We report our tonnage of recycling to the county and it goes toward that goal.”

There will be open houses that the public can attend to learn more about the program. They are set for Saturday, Aug. 25, 10 to 11:30 a.m., at the Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road; and on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Dunedin Library, 223 Douglas Ave.

“We’ve done so much research in the development of this program that we think it will be a model for other communities,” Brown said. “We hope that by making recycling convenient, that residents will find it easier than ever to conserve resources and protect the environment.”

For more information, visit www.d­unedi­ngov.­com or call 298-3215.
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